A look at the average winning times of four Grade 1 stakes races produced a startling revelation: in both the Mother Goose and the Kentucky Oaks, final times have decreased by between one to two seconds since 1960. According to thoroughbredracing.com, the equivalent races for colts (Belmont and Kentucky Derby) initially showed via the average final time that colts were getting faster, but that trend reversed around 1990, and today's average shows colts to be nearly a full second slower than they were in 1990.
Several explanations have been offered for the colts' plateau, including that Thoroughbreds are nearing their physical limits or that the stricter regulation of performance-enhancing drugs has decreased performance levels. Neither of those theories, however, accounts for the fact that fillies' speed has continued to improve in the past 20 years.
Interestingly, author Paul von Hippel also noted that speed records for races shorter than one mile nearly all date to 2005, while those over one mile have stagnated.
Read more at thoroughbredracing.com.
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